The Northumberland coast has bagged two awards in a prestigious national competition.
The county's coastline was voted the Holiday Destination of the Year in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2017, while one of its beaches, Embleton Bay, won Beach of the Year after a public poll.
In her submission for the Northumberland coast, Anita Rani, BBC Countryfile presenter, said: "Oh, the beauty of this coast: fine sandy beaches arc along the North Sea; spectacular castles stand guard on the shoreline; natural glories, pretty villages and jolly pubs abound. Puffins and seals enthrall visitors on the Farne Islands, and frazzled urbanites unwind while inhaling the calming monastic airs of Lindisfarne. A magical mix of mystery and merriment."
Mull, in the Inner Hebrides, finished second to the Northumberland coast.
And one of Northumberland's beaches, Embleton Bay completed the impressive double, picking up the Beach of the Year gong.
Hermione Cockburn, BBC Coast presenter, who nominated the beaches, said: "Northumberland’s coast garners another endorsement with this win. Stretching for miles, this enormous sandy silver beach is dominated by the epic ruins of 14th-century Dunstanburgh castle on its southern tip. Fringed by dunes, with ample birdwatching opportunities, the bay is perfect for family outings or long walks."
Second in the beach category was Balephuil Bay on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides.
The Farnes Islands were shortlisted for Nature Reserve of the Year but were pipped into second place by Abernethy Forest.
Brett Westwood, naturalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter, who selected the nature reserves, said: "The Farne Islands offers the closest seabird encounters you’ll ever have. Go in early summer when chick-rearing is at its fast and furious best and revel in the sights and sounds.”
Jude Leitch, director of Northumberland Tourism, said: "Those of us who are lucky enough to live in Northumberland know that our coast and beaches are the best in the country but it’s wonderful to see this confirmed in a publication as illustrious as Countryfile. I’m delighted that people from around the country took the time to vote for our coastline, Embleton Bay and the Farne Islands and it shows just how much Northumberland is loved by our visitors."
In recent years, Northumberland County Council has worked collaboratively on a number of initiatives to encourage more visitors, to develop sustainable tourism and to reaffirm the county’s proud identity. At the same time, it has been supporting and assisting local businesses to maximise the opportunities that tourism can bring.
Council leader Grant Davey said: “We couldn’t be more delighted that the county has received these awards. The fact that they were voted for by the public makes it all the more special. I think we can sometimes take for granted the sheer beauty, diversity and uniqueness of the county but those of us who are fortunate enough to live here do know what a special place it is. It is good to know that our visitors also agree.
“Tourism is incredibly important to our local economy, especially for our rural communities. These awards will put the county on the national and international tourism map and provide us with the type of positive publicity that no amount of money could buy.”
Tourism is a huge growth area for Northumberland. In 2013, £730million was injected into the county’s economy economy by 8.8million visitors and over 13,200 jobs rely on tourism. Since then, many attractions, activity providers, accommodation businesses and hospitality establishments have reported increases in business.